The rainbow nation and identity, a coloured story: a reading of Chris Van Wyk’s Shirley, goodness and mercy and Eggs to lay, chickens to hatch
thesisposted on 23.02.2017 by Stoltenkamp, Nicole Kim
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
This thesis will focus on how racial identities are constructed. It will look, in particular, at Chris Van Wyk’s memoirs Shirley, Goodness and Mercy (2004) and Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch (2010), which describe the life of the coloured community of Riverlea, a township in Johannesburg, under apartheid. It will investigate both the construction of the category “coloured” and the notion that the term coloured could be a way of defining the undefinable. The thesis explains the theories that can be used to inform the construction of coloured identity, such as Helene Strauss’s justification of the term “creolisation” to describe the coloured identity and Judith Butler’s notion that identity is performative. Such theories can be used to inform an individual’s choice to adopt, perform or reject examples of identity performances, particularly those identities which were imposed on coloured people during apartheid. However, history alone cannot determine an identity; we all have the ability to choose our identities. Because there are so many identities in contemporary South Africa, an individual living in this new society shares a layer of her/his identity with all humanity.